October is here, and the leaves are changing, taking on beautiful autumn hues. October is also Conflict Resolution Month, when we are encouraged to take a step back and look at any changes that might be necessary for our lives to also be beautiful. We need time each year to evaluate the results of the decisions we have made earlier in the year and whether we are on the right track for the future. This requires reviewing our goals and making sure we are taking steps to meet our top priorities. It just so happens that many of my divorce mediation clients are at exactly the same place in the mediation process, reviewing their past in order to make choices that create a different future. Taking steps to resolve conflict in our lives seems to be at the center of our decisions, right now. When asked to focus on what is really important, most of my clients agree that it is “relationships”. Relationships with spouses, children, family, neighbors, our entire community.
I just finished a mediation consult with a couple who proudly informed me that the had acquired millions of dollars worth of property throughout their long marriage and wondered if they would have much conflict dividing it all. I reminded them that mediation is the best way to “divide it all”. But it wasn’t until I mentioned their ability to get along affecting whether or not they could both visit their grandchildren at the same time that tears welled up in both client’s eyes. Clearly, what was most important to them was their ability to maintain a relationship with their children and grandchildren. Thoughts of the upcoming holidays made them quickly realize that ownership of the commercial real estate was not the most important thing. Rather, coming together with their family and not being excluded on Thanksgiving and Christmas was what was truly important. I see “relationships” trump “things” all the time.
Knowing how to resolve conflicts in relationships is one of the most important skills you can learn, even if you don’t learn it until you are getting divorced. Thank goodness there is a process that can help us learn to resolve conflict in a way that allows us to preserve and enjoy relationships with each other.